Before I get into talking about what I’m learning and how, it might be beneficial to know where I’m coming from. It’s also helpful for me to reflect on where I’ve started and what I’ve learned up until this point in my career.
I’ve been a librarian and/or archivist since 2012. In graduate school, I focused on traditional archival things – like arrangement and appraisal – and spurned the digital. I did not take the courses that I now recommend to prospective MLIS students interested in digital archiving, like metadata and database management. Before I embarked on my MLIS, I did a BA in Classical History.
My first job in a library, while I was still a student, was in a digital scholarship unit. I was handed two unprocessed archival collections and a proprietary digital content platform and told to make the material available online. My co-workers and I had to learn, very quickly, about metadata standards and digital collections management. We learned enough to figure out that the proprietary digital content platform that we’d been handed was not very good.
This led to learning about repository systems, more metadata standards, digital preservation. We ended up moving from the proprietary system to an open source system, which meant that I learned about open source, the development cycle, even *more* metadata standards, rights management, digital asset management, and many more things. Over the past couple of years, I’ve added more and more bits of knowledge where I could by taking workshops, reading documentation and blog posts by my colleagues, and – most importantly – by being thrust into situations where I had to learn in order to do my job.
Despite the learning that I’ve mentioned above, when I ask people for help I often hear myself saying, “I don’t know anything!” This is true because it’s how I feel. I know very little about technology, digital preservation, archival and library theory, coding, development, systems administration – things I’m paid to know about. Instead, I’m learning as I go, picking up the bits that are relevant to my professional life and mostly letting the rest slide because it doesn’t impact my day-to-day experience. This is, I think, how most of us function.
I want to be open about what I’m learning and how I learn, and I want to teach what I can in turn. When I started out, I didn’t think I could ever work with digital archival materials. Through some lucky work experience, I was introduced to people who were gracious enough to point me in the right direction. I want to be able to do the same, even though I still have a lot of learning to do. Then again, don’t we all?
Finally, please feel free to get in touch with me. The most reliable way is via twitter, where I’m @archivalistic – I’m sometimes locked, but feel free to add me anyway!